The Ministry of Education and UNICEF: All Children in School by 2015!
The launch of the Study on Out-of-School Children
BUCHAREST, 21 May 2013 - Today, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Senior Citizens, the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) have launched “All Children in School by 2015. The Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: Romania Country Study”.
“The report provides in-depth research on what is going on in Romania in terms of children who go or don’t go to school while being based on a methodology shared by other 25 countries and developed by a number of international institutions: the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNICEF, etc. In Romania, the Ministry of National Education got involved in this project from the start. At the very first meeting with UNICEF, we showed interest in working together and we commended this project. This is not the only study that we have conducted together, there were others in the past and many more will follow. What we, at the Ministry of Education, have to do when making public policy decisions about access to education for all children is to consider the data resulting from this report, which contains loads of inputs and recommendations – from legal aspects to actions that we can actually take at the level of inspectorates, local communities, etc.”, said Remus Pricopie, the Minister of Education.
“I’m glad that Romania is one of the first countries to launch this report, a worldwide best practice model. I am confident that the institutions that have contributed to the report will continue to work well together and develop public policies and initiatives aimed at addressing the drop-out phenomenon in an integrated manner”, declared Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania. “In recent years, the early school leaving rate has increased to 17.5%. In line with the Europe 2020 strategy, Romania has committed to reducing the early school leaving rate to 15% by 2014 and to 11% by 2020. Romanian and European experiences have demonstrated the value of school mediators. Today, Romania has the legal framework in place and almost 500 mediators, but is in urgent need of 1,500 more school mediators for vulnerable communities”, added Sandie Blanchet.
As revealed by the study and the practical experience of UNICEF – particularly with the implementation of the School Attendance Initiative, children’s school participation is the result of converging actions taken by the school, the family, community-based institutions and central government. The situation of out-of-school children is often the consequence of several social, cultural, economic, and educational factors.
The study proposes a new way of looking at stats to explain non-attendance and to find the best interventions meant to prevent risks which, if not addressed in time, may lead to drop-out. Hence, data analysis shows that significant percentages, eight per cent in children aged 7 to 10 years and five per cent in those aged 11 to 14 years, are not in school, and this is mainly due to poverty, parents’ low level of education, the lack of an appropriate school-level mechanism for timely risk identification and elimination. Negative phenomena are more pervasive in rural areas and, in terms of ethnicity, they disproportionately affect Roma ethnics more than the majority population.
To address this, the study recommends better prepared schools and teachers to work with at-risk children, improved infrastructure, involved parents and community alliances.
The general recommendations of the study include collecting and reporting drop-out data more efficiently, appropriately training human resources and developing a curriculum adapted to the needs of children at risk of dropping out, capitalising on the school-parents partnership and making schools more attractive, building administrative and management capacities, as well as reasonable funding for social and educational programmes.
At the beginning of 2010, UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics launched the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children to stimulate more complex and better documented policies, and the closer monitoring of exclusion from education. The Initiative targets 26 countries which have conducted in-depth analyses of the situation of children who are out of school or at risk of being left behind by the education system, including exclusion determinants and existing policies meant to enhance school participation.
The goal of this Global Initiative is to inspire educational research and country-level studies conducted based on inter-institutional collaboration. The Initiative also aims at building national capacities to collect and manage educational statistics, to analyse policies and to develop statistics-based national strategies. The Global Initiative and the country-level report start from the premise that a good understanding of the dimensions of exclusion is the key to efficient drop-out prevention policies.
Statistics always reflect realities from one or two years back. The study started in 2010 with the development of the global working methodology. The Romanian study draws on the data that was available in 2011, reflecting the school-level situation as of 2009. The study runs a system scan to identify school participation trends.
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